David Tennant. Catherine Tate.
Those names were enough to cause a second glance between us…fair play to Josie Rourke, who had the good sense and vision to make the connection to Beatrice and Bennedick. Although both actors have individually lent their talent to Shakepeare works prior, I imagine that casting them together (post Dr Who success) created some challenges; the notoriety of the pair must have been both a blessing and a great responsibility.
Brilliant casting aside, Rourke makes this well loved Shakespearean rom-com even more accessible by choosing to set the scene of young lovers (and schemers) in the height of the eighties. That fashion, that hair, that unmistakeable Casio keyboard jam—all apparently as enduring as the love story (within a love story) that continues to enchant us. Not a bit of humour was lost in the time warp. In fact, the relevancy of the sentiment echoed in neon.
Perhaps as a result of the fame of the actors, or perhaps more attributable to the delicious insanity of the director, the main characters became supporting cast members as Beatrice and Bennedick stole the show. I should consider that it was Rourke’s intention all along to give the anti-lovers centre stage-as these are the two that are more common among us today.
Is it over the top? Yes. Is it outrageously funny? Yes. It is perfect? ‘Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent!’
Worth it. Very worth it.
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